THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) yesterday lashed at the latest International Criminal Court (ICC) report about murders and torture being committed by Duterte law enforcement agents as a result of their war on drugs and described the charges as ‘grossly unfair, unjustifiable and one-sided.’
In a statement, PDEA chair, Director General Wilkins M. Villanueva said they remain skeptical on how the ICC came up with their findings solely on the basis of open-source information.
“The report of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that there is “reasonable basis” to believe that crimes against humanity of murder, torture and the infliction of serious physical injury and mental harm as other inhumane acts were committed during the PH war on drugs campaign, was grossly unfair, unjustifiable and one-sided,” he said.
Villanueva said that “like all other well-founded reports, the ICC report should show proof and undergo the standard validation and vetting process before arriving at any firm conclusions.”
According to Villanueva, the ICC should have waited for the release of the report of an inter-agency panel created by the Department of Justice to investigate the apparent drug-related killings, rather than issuing general statements that are yet to be proven without the aid of a formal and local investigation.
Villanueva said the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), in a resolution, offered technical assistance to the Philippine government to strengthen its human rights and accountability measures, instead of launching an independent investigation.
“Coming from the UNHRC, it is a credible testament that there lies an insufficient substantiation that extra-judicial killings exist in the Philippines,” he said.
Villanueva expressed optimism that the ICC judges will decide against pursuing an open investigation into the situation in the Philippines predicated on the principle applied on the previous rulings of its pre-trial chamber due to the absence of cooperation from the accused country, w”here the ICC has territorial jurisdiction.
President Rodrigo Duterte does not recognize the ICC jurisdiction over the Philippines as manifested by his withdrawal to be part of the Rome Statute- the treaty which forms the international tribunal, since the treaty was never published in a newspaper of general circulation. Considering there is an absence of jurisdiction, it stands to reason that any ICC rulings are not enforceable in the country,” he said.
The Philippine National Police also maintained the legitimacy of their accomplishments on the Duterte government’s war on drugs since July 2016 saying their accusers here and abroad must present factual evidence to prove their claims or those charges will remain as ‘rehashed and fabricated ones.’
PNP spokesman, Brigadier General Ildebrandi N. Usana said that Malacañang has already provided the official position of the national government regarding the latest report from the International Criminal Court which ironically did not say anything about the dozens of policemen and soldiers who have been killed by armed and dangerous drug traffickers over the past four years.
“Nagbigay na po ang Palasyo ng reaksyon as regards the ICC report. We give it to Malacañang. In so far as the official position of the government, hindi po nire-recognize ang ICC report,” Usana said as he maintained the need for their accusers to present reliable and factual evidence.
“Kasama po ‘yun sa usapin ng human rights. Kailangan naman po siguro na makita ho ano ba ‘yung mga pieces of evidence na nagsasabi na may violation of human rights po,” the official who used to be the director of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office said.
Every year since the start of the Duterte administration, the ICC had made the same repeated charges that President Duterte and his law enforcement authorities have committed human rights violations as a result of the crackdown against illegal drug trafficking and abuse.
This time, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor released a report that ‘there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity were committed under President Duterte’s term.
It even claimed that the government encouraged the killing of suspected or purported drug users and dealers, a claim belied by PNP authorities.
Since 2016, the PNP leadership has repeatedly maintained that the killing of armed drug personalities as a result of the war on drugs are legitimate.
Officials from the time of PNP chief and now Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa who started the PNP’s tough campaign against powerful drug lords and their il have maintained that the rehashed narratives of alleged police abuses remain unproven and devoid of truth from the beginning but have been repeatedly told and retold over and over again to make it sound factual.
The ICC made a similar claim last year, even adding that rape and other abuses have been committed by the police as a result of the campaign against illegal drugs.
The PNP leadership headed by General Debold M. Sinas has maintained the regularity of all police operations in its major campaign against crime, illegal drugs, and terrorism and added that the possibility of confrontation with armed suspects is always present each time officers go after defiant criminals.
Brig. Gen. Usana added that all police operatives remain guided by the Police Operational Procedures crafted to ensure transparency and accountability in all police operations.
According to presidential spokesperson, Secretary Harry Roque, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s appreciation of the incidents linked to the controversial drug campaign was “legally erroneous”
“We do not agree with her. It’s legally erroneous dahil mayroon po tayong minimum gravity na required. Hindi po lahat ng krimen ay nililitis sa ICC. Bahala sila kung anong gusto nilang gawin. Hindi po natin kinikilala ang hurisdiksyon ng ICC,” Sec. Roque said.
Latest RealNumbersPH figures show that from July 1, 2016 to last October 31, government law enforcement agents led by the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency headed by Director General Wilkins M. Villanueva have conducted a total of 183,525 anti-illegal drug operations which led in the arrest of 266,126 suspects, 10,721 of them identified as ‘high-value targets’ and the killing of 5,942 armed drug personalities following gunbattles with officers.
During the same period, government agents have seized P56,26 billion worth of drugs and controlled precursors and essential chemicals. Of the total amount, P46,42 billion are shabu or the so-called ‘poor man’s cocaine.’